Beneath The Rosy Tales, Lies The Truth – The Truth Behind MBA
You enter the fabled “Mayanagri” or the “Silicon Valley” of India, with hopes to make a cut out there in the magical city. Or maybe, hope to land up in the actual Silicon Valley. You join the swanky office slogging long hours per day, generating codes which breed more “bugs” than your bed ever can.
Oh, did I mention being crammed up in public transport for daily commutation, and coming back “cubicle” at night (packed up to even a greater extent than your office cubicle) in that “Mayanagri” or “Silicon Valley” itself?
Suddenly, you hear about a magical place called “B-School” from where the graduate just seem to be walking on Cloud 9, with annual pay packages exceeding 6 times your current package. Oh, that’s not all. Their Facebook posts don’t seem to contain a single photograph from any domestic locale. Some of those posts belong to the actual Silicon Valley itself.
You find that the 3-letter word called MBA and a 3-4 letter “Elite” and “Premier” b-school is the solution to all your worries under the Sun. So, to get through the pearly gates, all you need to do it to bell the elusive “CAT”. But that comes for a price.
You have sacrificed sleep, food, family, friends and almost everything for that elusive CAT. Years on years might have been a disappointment for you since the CAT remained elusive. Tension at home, idiots at workplace, writing codes for a “vacationing” fellow onsite (whose job may be perceived to dump the bugs from real Silicon Valley to the “Silicon Valley of India”), salary of figures which would make even “peanuts” appear larger.
You ping-pong between two 4 X 4 cubicles, morning and night,
Putting your sweat and blood, 24 X 7, day and night,
Paying the cost of belling the CAT,
Hoping to race to the Wonderland, as fast as you can.
Finally, your hopes seem to soar exponentially when you convert one of the Most Elite B-Schools in India. The “Superman” within you now wakes up to throw your resignation letter to your boss. Within a few days, you shop all your “essentials” which you might need for your arduous two-year journey – to get tagged for life. Brilliant.
You enter a place where roughly 98.286% of the Indian youth cannot get into. You feel “empowered” to take on the Corporate World, since you now belong to the fabled 1.714% of the Indian youth. You start taking selfies with the iconic places or logo of your Institute.
Since when did you learn to value yourself “less” than a logo or an icon?
Post them on Facebook and Instagram, your chest swells with each like and comment. Life just can’t get worse, isn’t it?
Welcome to the Dark World of MBA
The ugliness will rear its head right from the point of your club or committee selection in the form of cronyism, which you thought must have ended when you slapped the resignation letter to your underqualified supervisor. Oh wait, did you think that you would get into “Ramrajya” or “US Style democracy” when you entered the “most elite” B school? Really? Time to wake up. There is no democracy over here. You might have answered your Group Discussion well, solved your case excellently and superbly answered your interviews. Yet, you cannot change a person favouring cronyism. This reminds me of Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk’s speech from King Richard II (written by the great William Shakespeare), who said that a lion may tame a leopard, but cannot change the leopard’s spots. (Act I Scene I).
Wait, the story has not ended yet.
Did you genuinely think that your past “sins” of poor academic grades, non-branded engineering college, academic gaps or career gaps would end once you enter the “golden gates” of “Elite” MBA college? Conventional wisdom doesn’t seem to agree to this.
“The past cannot remain buried forever” – Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russel Crowe), The Mummy (movie)
“…. We live today. We shall live again. In many forms, we shall return” – Ancient Egyptian prayer of resurrection,
The Mummy (movie)
“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;” – Mark Antony, Julius Caesar (play by William Shakespeare)
Hence, the past DOES resurrect in many forms indeed.
Barely 2 to 3 months after passing through the “pearly gates” of the “nirvana” land called B-school, you would be thrown into the “hot gates” of the “300” (movie) fame. This time for summer placements. Here, the sins of your past will come back with terrible vengeance to haunt you.
Your CAT score doesn’t matter. Your academic proficiency or knowledge doesn’t matter. Your projects don’t matter. Your “person-profile” or “person-job” fit DOES NOT and I repeat DOES NOT matter.
What are the parameters which “might” get you shortlisted?
1. Your undergraduate Institute (must be an “Elite” one or the one where the MD or recruiting team members studied)
2. Your age (forget marketing jobs if you are above a particular age, irrespective of your past experience)
3. Your experience (go to rule no. 2)
4. If you happen to satisfy rules 1-3, then the “piety” of your profile will be tested against the following “commandments”:
a. Past academic grades should be good (above 80%)
b. Academic gaps or professional gaps are “sins”
Now is the time to pray that your name is not “filtered off” by the Excel filters the Company might be using to shortlist you and your peers. Imagine talented “pious” CAs getting filtered off due to Excel filters from Banking or Finance shortlists. As I said, person-job fit doesn’t matter; what matters are the factors listed above. And the CA group is not the only group which is affected.
Oh, and did I mention about Group Discussions? It appears like a non-violent form of the “Hunger Games” or the Gladiator sports, where a person is judged by how many (nonsensical?) points he can make in the loudest possible volume and the maximum possible interruptions he can create towards the others’ speech. It is interesting to recollect that you might not have faced any Group Discussions during the admission process of your B-School.
Somewhere, quality, talent, profile fit goes out of the window.
No wonder despite having no dearth of talent in India, we are good only in multiplying the existing technologies or concepts with little modification. We always are forced to rely on “developed” powers to give us a portion of their “developed” technologies or concepts – something which they don’t mind since they know that such a situation in India won’t change.
We can only talk volumes on “strategic fits” but not “walk the talk” since we are chained by our fixation towards “fanciful brands”, cronyism and lobbying.
But we should not complaint. After all, the amount of labour we put in for so many years is to get “tagged” by a 3-4 letter “Elite” brand Institution in our CVs.
Revisit the opening paragraphs. You already sacrificed enough to get into the B-School. You are already into the “Elite” league of 1.714% of the Indian population, called the “chosen ones”. Great.
Very soon you will slog another 2 years to get a 3-4 letter “Premier” brand on your CV – tagged for your life. You would work about 18 – 20 hours per day for assignments, academics, competitions, quizzes, exams, projects, presentations and what not. You will get placed and get a job. Many of you might be lucky enough to be placed abroad.
In India however, your troubles won’t be over so soon.
You would have a heavy loan on your head to clear off within 4-5 years horizon. The trouble compounds if you get posted in some city with irrationally high cost of living without services. So, what next? Brace yourself again for a 16-18 hour work schedule, thanks to our Government which finds no time to care for its people being made to slog terribly without getting paid, unlike the developed countries and even many underdeveloped ones. Spend a hefty part of your salary towards paying off the EMIs. And when you do manage to pay off the loan, be prepared to get married off due to parental pressures. And repeat the cycle started by your previous generations – all over again. The condition of meager resources would remain the same – as was present with the generations before us. Needless to tell you what comes next – children, their education expenses, home loan, car loan. Did I miss anything?
My question is what did YOU get out of it? Did it give you a meaning in life? Could you fulfil your desires or passions? Was it worth a life of sacrifice? Your childhood – gone, adolescence period – gone, adulthood – gone. What is left now for you? When did you live your life?
As per the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, you will fulfil the Safety and Physiological needs at the bottom of the pyramid. But the game changes when you don’t believe in yourself to be able to do so daily. If that goes on, when will you fulfil the needs associated with self-actualization, love, belonging or self-esteem?
Did you sacrifice your childhood and youth and obtained “Elite” education so that you can pay bigger bills only? Clearly, something is wrong – very wrong with our perceptions itself.
Through this piece, I do not intend to scare yourself from Engineering, Job or MBA by itself. I am myself in one such “Premier” Institutes of the Country. My Institute has given me knowledge, network, exposure so far, for which I find myself highly grateful. I found my Professors leave no stone unturned in making me understand concepts, with immense patience and happiness, which I believe, is a hallmark of an Institute worthy of the “Premier” tag.
My job spanned across Companies at both ends of the spectrum – one who says big about being “a great place to work” or “ethics” without delivering on it and one which actually delivers on the promise of being “even a greater place to work” and being one of the “most ethical” Companies without much outward pomp and show. That clearly reflects on their standings in Global Fortune 500 rankings (it is not difficult to see the real ethical company of the two, finding space in such rankings).
Having made my point above, my humble submission to you is that there exists an ugly side to the state of affairs. You should be mentally prepared to deal with and challenge the same. And not to forget, the cost of the entire scheme of things – after all what sense does MBA make if you are simply unaware of the costs in the first place.
Also, you might say that we have really scaled great heights in terms of technology or management positions in Companies. While I do agree with this fact partially, I smell the praise of mediocrity in this argument. It can be re-told in a simpler language in this way: We do have the potential to reach the Sun, while we are currently stuck upto the Moon or Mars only, while others have reached even Jupiter and Saturn. It is the responsibility of the Companies and the Government of the Country to ensure person-skill-job fit in workplace actually occurs, instead of relying on “Brand 1+Brand 2” Institute Combo or “CGPA” criteria. Maybe we need to remind ourselves of the qualification of one of the richest people on this planet, who neither had much of “Premium” University Education, nor he was born with a silver spoon. But the people tagged from such “Premier” Institutes want to work for his Company. No wonder his Company Features among the top players in Global Fortune 500 list. Chasing Excellence is thus the key here. Once the Organization and Government ensures that “Excellence” is pursued, hired and retained, success will automatically follow. Reminds of 3 Idiots (movie) anyone?
Good and Evil both exist and fight between the two is eternal. We must remember the old Cherokee tale of the fight between the good wolf and evil wolf within each of us. The one whom we choose to feed will emerge victorious. Our choice, here, is the key.
Disclaimer: The above article is based on absolutely REAL incidents which may be happening even as we read this story.